The recent case of Singh and others v Charity Commission and others  EWHC 2183 (Ch) heard in the Chancery Division of the High Court gave further guidance in relation to relief from sanction.
In the case the court granted relief from sanctions in respect of a Claimant who had failed to comply with an order to make a payment on account of costs in the sum of £75,000.00. This was in spite of the fact that the Claimant was in breach of an Unless Order. The parties both accepted that the Claimant’s default was serious and the judge was satisfied that there was no good reason for it.
In reaching its decision the court applied the guidelines set down by the Court of Appeal in Denton v TH White Ltd and others  EWCA Civ 906, the court also considered the further guidance provided in case of Oak Cash and Carry Ltd v British Gas Trading  EWCA Civ 153 which required the court to consider the delay under the original order and not simply the delay following on from the breach of the Unless Order. The court noted that payment was made relatively soon after the Claimants lost their application to vary the Unless Order and the disruption to the court timetable was minimal. The dates for the pre-trial review and trial could still be utilised and the dates given in the directions would only need minor adjustment. There would have to be a further Costs and Case Management Hearing, but that court determined that the disruption was not sufficient so as to justify the continued debarring of a potentially good claim. The judge also took into account the fact that the claim affected others beside the actual parties to the case in the form of the Attorney General.
The judge ordered the Claimants to pay the costs thrown away by the additional Costs and Management Conference, but allowed relief from sanction and allowed the claim to continue. The case shows in the right circumstance and with the right evidence before the court it is still possible to obtain relief from sanctions. The area is still nuanced and each case has to be considered on its own facts.